Simon has been cooking for about three hours because I put a “Cheesy Mac and Cheese” recipe in front of him. His initial response was excitement. Three hours later he is sweating as he finally assembles all the components. Turns out it was a recipe within in a recipe within a recipe. Cheesy sauce with roasted garlic, smoked chicken, pasta. Epic. Like this time in our life.
I take Violet for a bike ride, which means running behind her and catching her before she lurches into a pole. She has not yet mastered “straightening out” or “stopping.” She asks me if soon she will be able to “bike like a champ.” She asks me this during our biking break, as we watch a skateboarder jump over a log. He, Violet says, is “doing that like a champ.” I don’t know if being a champ should be part of our goals right now, but I’m grateful that she can still muster aspiration.
Current pandemic cravings:
So many ways to count the passing of time in a pandemic. When it’s time to do laundry again; when it’s time to place another online order…for eggs, now Almond Milk, now cheese, now apples. The last time I vacuumed—that’s another way to count the passing of time. The last time I emptied the vacuum container.
I wonder how the passing of time is different in a pandemic than in normal life? I wonder, but I don’t have to wonder too hard. Because my body doesn’t need to know how, just that it is. Different. That we are perpetually in between. Always confused. On the verge of tears. This is pandemic time.
I think about the book I have been reading by Kathleen Norris, a Christian poet. She has spent a lot of time in monasteries and writes about a monk condition: acedia, the Latin word for apathy. I’m pretty sure I have it—acedia—and that I have to steel myself against it on a daily basis now. I am bored but I am healthy. I am bored but my children are safe. I am bored but I can still search for Jesus. Norris says this is the best time for searching.
I join the kids and Simon at the park today, pushing through my resistance. I don’t feel fun these days. I don’t want to play. But I must. We find balls—one for each of us—in the forbidden playground as we make up a pandemic version of bocce ball. Only kicking, no throwing. You can’t use our hands for anything now. The ball we find for Simon is rubber and breaking into pieces, a long time resident of the abandoned schoolyard. He makes it seem fun—kicking a piece of detritus. Violet pauses the ball game to bike around the playground. Her little body so confident all of a sudden. Lithe. Elegant. Perfection.
God for her. God for her heart, and every piece of her. God my God. Un-bored God. Strong God. God for us all. The list spills out now…God for the healthcare workers, the grocery workers, the children of healthcare workers, the leaders of our city, our province, our country, the world, the children going hungry, the adults juggling too many things, the factory workers begging for masks, the nurses who’ve seen too much, all those who feel so alone, my church family, my parents, my bike riding Violet…Desperate pandemic prayers.
“I’m going to start brushing my teeth three times a day,” Violet tells me this morning. It seems she is still full of large goals. Later she asks, “Is it okay that I’m eating a candy cane in spring? Not even close to winter.” I want to tell her that time has lost all meaning and that nothing matters in quite the same way anymore. But I don’t. I just say, “Totally okay.” Which I know it will be again.